Library of Congress LC-USZ62-55549
c1918 by Harris & Ewing
-Click to enlarge-


USNS Michelson was named in honor of CDR Albert A. Michelson, USNR

President Ulysses S. Grant awarded Albert A. Michelson a special appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in 1869. During his four years as a midshipman at the Academy, Michelson excelled in optics, heat and climatology, and drawing. After his graduation in 1873 and two years at sea, he returned to the Academy to become an instructor in physics and chemistry, from 1875 to 1879. During this time in Annapolis he conducted his first experiments of the velocity of light, as part of a class demonstration in 1877.

Although Michelson resigned from the Navy in 1881 to pursue a career in physics, he remained dedicated to and involved with the Navy. From 1891 to 1919, Michelson designed for the Bureau of Ordnance optical range-finders and ear protectors, which were patented and later used for ear protection during gunfire. From 1895-1900, he served as commander of the First Battalion of the Illinois Naval Reserve, which he helped organize. During World War I, Michelson was the head of the scientific research committee at the University of Chicago and served as a lieutenant commander with the Bureau of Ordnance as a scientific consultant. Michelson enrolled in the United States Naval Reserve Force on June 28, 1918 for four years. In May 1919, Michelson was promoted to Commander in the Naval Coast Defense Reserve Class 4.*

Albert Michelson was awarded the 1907 Nobel Prize in Physics for his optical precision instruments and the spectroscopic and metrological investigations carried out with their aid.

* - U.S. Naval Academy Nimitz Library http://www.usna.edu/LibExhibits/Michelson/Michelson_navy.html

USNS Michelson in port in Yokosuka, Japan, 1967.

Photo courtesy of George Meier.


Michelson underway, November, 1961.  The magnetometer sensor is visible hanging from the winch frame at the stern. The photo is damaged at the starboard bow, obscuring the anchor and partially obscuring the ship's name, but is otherwise of outstanding quality.

Photo courtesy of John A. Hansen. (John comments: The photo is marked "negative No. AGS-23-344(L) 11-61" on the back.  I have two copies of the photo and the blemish that looks like sea spray on the starboard bow is present on both. Perhaps it was on the original negative.)

Michelson, dead in the water, pre-1963.  Lifeboat No.2 has been lowered; presumably this picture has been taken from the boat.

Photo courtesy of Chet Headley. (Chet comments: this photo was given to me when I went aboard Michelson in 1964. Note the absence of the BRN-3 antenna, so this photo was taken before the 1963 yard period.)

USNS Michelson underway, slow. Her No. 2 lifeboat has been launched, probably the platform from which this photo was taken. This is an early photo: no BRN-3 antenna and Star Tracker dome is present.  Also, the signal flag locker is on the 04 Level above the port bridge wing.

Photo courtesy of Ace Hunter.

Michelson at sunset, at anchor at Okinawa, 1967.

Photo courtesy of Ace Hunter.